Are you finding it hard to lose weight? Here are 6 reasons women over 40 struggle to lose weight.

At Trinity, we speak to hundreds of women in their 40s and 50s who are looking to drop a dress size or two. However, most of the time, they struggle to lose weight or see any progress. Most of the time, they’re trying all the diet plans and programmes which worked for them in their 20s and 30s. Yet, they find they’re no longer seeing the same results at the end of the week.

While it’s true that age and hormones can make it easier to gain weight (especially around the middle), the good news is that there’s a quick and easy way to escape from this situation!

It usually comes down to a few simple mistakes that people make, which stop them from getting the results they want. Here, we’re going to go through the 6 reasons women over 40 struggle to lose weight and see movement on the scales. Alternatively, you can listen to this on our podcast episode here.

Plus, we include our most effective strategies to get the scales moving and drop those dress sizes in the next few months!

Changing hormones

Did you know, physical and hormonal changes can start 5-10 years before clinical menopause? This can lead to a heightened stress response, changing levels of progesterone and oestrogen, joint aches and pains, and changes to metabolism. All of these factors can make it easier to gain weight and more difficult to lose it again (especially around your middle)!

Rather than just taking a ‘general’ fitness approach, designed to work for your average dieter, you should choose an approach specifically designed for women over 40. One which works with your changing hormones, rather than against them!

The key things to look out for are low impact, weights-based workouts and a sensible nutrition approach which doesn’t involve anything too extreme. You can find out more about what we recommend here.

Stress can block fat loss from happening, especially if you’re over 40

When you get stressed, it raises the stress hormone cortisol in your body. This is called a stress response. This has a number of side effects on you, including increasing cravings and making it harder for the body to burn fat! This could be a key reason you struggle to lose weight in your forties.

As you age, this stress response gets larger, and this increase is 3 times more prominent in women than men. In essence, you can’t get rid of all the stress coming in, such as work pressures, family responsibilities, and looking after the house. If this isn’t managed it can turn into disrupting stress hormones, which leads to:

  • Drinking wine on the sofa back on the laptop finishing work that didn’t get done
  • Eating a whole sharing bag of chocolate every night
  • Mindlessly munching through an entire bag of crisps and biscuits

It’s like a bath with the taps always on but the plug is in, you need to take the plug out to avoid it overflowing! There are plenty of different ways to do this. In our Fit Over 40 programme, we do this using a process called the Stress Shield. This is a simple daily mindset routine that takes only 7-8 minutes a day, and avoids stress levels becoming too high.

Weekend eating undoes the hard work from the week

To put it simply, the average Indian takeaway includes 1,338 calories and 55g of fat, according to a report in Which? This is almost an entire day’s calories for many of our clients!

When you add in a bottle of wine and some more snacks, this could easily be over 2,000 calories. Even if you don’t eat much during the week, eating completely mindlessly over the weekend often leads to overeating.

And, because your weight mainly comes down to the number of calories you take in compared to the amount you have burned, you’re guaranteed to gain weight if you overeat every weekend.

We recommend you to balance your average calories over the week, either by eating less in the week to compensate for the weekend, or by finding a balance between the two. 

Portion sizes are too big for your age and activity levels

A lot of the women we work with already mention that portion sizes may be a problem. They’re working from home at their desk all day, not getting out much – especially in winter. Then they still eat pretty large portions, especially for dinner! Some even eat the same portions as their husbands or partners.

However, portion sizes must be right for you. This varies with age, hormones, activity level and gender.

A simple way to do this is actually just to use smaller plates! Upping your activity level can also help. Walking 5,000 steps will burn 200 extra calories, which can be the difference between losing weight or not, for a lot of people!

Inside our Fit Over 40 programme we personalise our client’s nutrition to them, so they know exactly how much to eat whilst still losing weight.

Mindlessly eating snacks easily outweighs exercise and healthy eating

Processed food is loaded with hidden calories. Some of the worst offenders include biscuits and sharing bags of chocolate. Some of these would take running for 1 hour 50 minutes non-stop, just to burn off!

Mindlessly eating a few biscuits during the day, or a bag of crisps in front of the TV, is enough to completely put the brakes on fat loss, even if you’re exercising.

We recommend you find out the why behind these behaviours. For example, is it boredom, or maybe simply convenience? Once you know the why, get rid of the snacks – if they’re not there you can’t mindlessly eat them.

Instead, replace these with a healthy alternative, such as individual bags of snack-a-jacks, Hartley’s 10kcal jellies or protein yoghurts!

Just because alcohol is liquid, doesn’t mean it’s not fattening 

Alcohol is super high in calories. For example, a bottle of wine can sit at around 700 kcals! You’d need to go running for an hour and 20 mins just to balance out a bottle of wine. But that’s not all.

Alcohol tends to lead to poor food choices, and spiralling out of control with eating. Your lower inhibitions can lead to mindlessly eating crisps, nuts and snacks. Plus, alcohol disrupts sleep – and this in turn disrupts hunger hormones.

Similarly to the above, we recommend you to find out why you’re drinking, whether that be stress or boredom. Then, cut out alcohol entirely for a short period of time. This will allow you to find other ways to deal with the stress, such as walking or meditation. Then, you can reintroduce alcohol at a much healthier rate.

If you’d like some help with finding a programme which works for you, Trinity might be able to help. You can find out more here!